Jenks soldier killed in Afghanistan is laid to rest

Thursday, January 5th 2006, 6:13 am
By: News On 6

A sad farewell to an extraordinary soldier.

US Army Reserves 1st Sergeant Toby Meister was a Golden Gloves Boxing Champion, an undefeated kick-boxer and named the nation's top drill sergeant in 2002. The Jenks man was killed last week in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb.

News on 6 reporter Steve Berg was in Jenks for his funeral service.

“What describes Toby the best is that when he was a kid, he would run across the karate room and jump into the air and land in the splits with a big smile on his way and that's the way he lived his life, all the way to the very end." Bob Dempewolf says he's still in disbelief, that the youngster with so much energy is gone. He says he first met Toby when he was 7 years old and says Toby's first karate instructor thought he was too young. "Toby stepped up and said sir, if you take me on, I'll try as hard as I can."

And that he did and not just there. He was a high-school class president, a boxing champ and an award-winning drill sergeant.

Toby would become the teacher himself and former ROTC student Steve Collier says he was a great one. "He helped me through quite a bit of tough times. I always came for him for help. I remember him teaching me a lot, some hand-to-hand combat, got my butt kicked a lot."

Former drill instructor student Shannon Rupp says Toby was stern but never harsh. "Drove 7 hours from Nebraska to be here today and y'know that's how much of an impact he had on my life and I needed to be here to pay my respects to him. He meant a lot to me. I wish I'd had the chance to tell him that."

Sadly, he won't have the chance to teach his own son. He leaves behind a wife and their one-year-old boy, but he also leaves behind a rich legacy. Bob Dempewolf: "They say the ultimate compliment that a student can pay his teacher is to surpass him, and he surpassed us all."

We don't exactly how many people were at the funeral Friday morning, but it was easily in the hundreds, with license plates from many different states.

Toby Meister was 30 years old.